I grew up in the bush of Jamaica. A statement I can recall saying so many times, more than “My name is Junior”. My name has great significance to me only because I a junior and was named after my father, the best man I have ever known and the greatest friend I’ve ever had. The resonance of the initial statement comes from a situation where people make the word ‘bush’ seem so dark and derogatory, typical nature of society. However, for me, the bush is nothing short of being a gold mind because it holds so many of my greatest memories and it helped me to develop an identity for myself. I have changed addresses more times than I can count, and to be honest, I can’t count them because I have little memory of them. All this took place before I started developing a true sense of my environment and committing them to memory. Therefore, the Bush is all I know, which is dear to me for many reasons but none more precious than the fact that it was a safe haven that protected me from the true horrors of the world that I have come to know. My parents did a very good job of protecting me from the same, but they went a step further to choose a prime location for my upbringing, yes, The Bush.
Now, this is the first entry in a long time and no, it isn’t about the bush but more about the realities that the bush shielded me from so, technically, you can say it is about the bush, by extension. So, what exactly am I writing about today? Well daddy and Busha (daddy’s friend) used to refer to it as –isms and –skisms. Take a look at so many of the words that society once considered taboo and insensitive (yet they still want to force-feed us with them) they almost all had those endings. They still exist today but simply have a different manifestation, -ists and –isms. If you hear a word that ends in –ism, -skism and –ist, you may want to ask what it means and check if you really want to use it or associate yourselves with it (buy a dictionary, doesn’t make you a dunce, having too much pride to not own one does). The most profound in today’s society is RACISM. Growing up, I can’t recall ever hearing the word or being introduced to the concept, thanks to my bush. People around me were too busy trying to ‘make ends meet’ and ‘keep their heads above the water’ to have time to pay attention to the colour of a man’s skin, how the rest of the world saw it and the many meanings tied to it. However, in present day society the emphasis being placed on colour just solidifies the point I have been making for so long, we as human beings have come a far way but still have the mind-set and ways of the ones before us. Back in the days racism was so prevalent that I am surprised how my parent’s parent’s parent’s survived much less found time to procreate. Fast forward years later and racism is still damn strong. But why? People can’t choose their characteristics and features before they enter this world, so why their trepidation? We still live in a time where people hate and are hated because of their colour, race, ethnicity, religion etc. If that is the case, how do we expect hate to be a thing of the past. People are still being cultured to hate based on all of the above (and more) yet they want war and crime to be issues we no longer have to deal with? We hear the words people say but we don’t listen! Bob Marley said it so many years ago yet we simply go heads-over-heels for his music but ignore the lyrics, then what about the song moves you? He said:
That was 30 years ago but still the words aren’t being heeded. People expect individuals who are discriminated against and stereotyped to sit back and relax knowing that, on the basis of a characteristic trait and a believe, his/her life could be snuffed out, snatched away?
Irony seems to really be a culturally tailored and, resultantly, inevitable. I recently watched The Race, the story of Jesse Owens and the 1936 Olympics, and boy the movie was a bundle of irony. The United States, a country that was so racist at the time, (yes, I know it still is, but show me a country that isn’t. Let me finish!!) wanted to boycott the Olympics that year because of the way Jews and Blacks (more the former) were being treated under the Hitler regime. How can you want to boycott an event based on the host country’s governance and treatment of many of its people when right in your own front yard, blacks were being marginalized and discriminated against? Truth be told, that is not irony at all, it’s pure hypocrisy. Don’t see it? Ok, the star and athlete of the games, Mr. Owens, who won four gold medals, couldn’t use the front (main) entrance to get to the celebration that was being held in his honour, he instead had to use the service entrance. ALL BECAUSE HE WAS BLACK. Still don’t think that is hypocrisy? Ok, maybe you are a hypocrite then! All this took place 80 years ago, 80!!! Less than 100 years ago. It is so damn scary. Scary because that is a short period and scary because people are still being treated in like manner today. Look at the police killings in the same country, has anything changed? Yes, technology is vastly more improved so we have a front row seat to all that is happening. Police are killing blacks, blacks are killing police. The back and forth won’t end if all these –isms and –ists continue to be a part of society. The scariest thing about the movie was the epiphany it created. 80 years ago in Germany, Jews, blacks and everyone the National Socialist Party saw as ‘undesirables’ were imprisoned or killed. While watching the movie, the thought creeped into my subconscious, “damn, that’s how things were, I wonder if it still goes on there and after this, would I really want to visit Germany?” Then I had to sit up in bed when the thought became a conscious manifestation and my conscious alter ego said to me, “you were just there”!! It took some time for me to gather my thought and continue watching the movie but I found ease in the fact that a lot has changed in German society and culture, mainly the fact that the dictatorship rule is no longer an enforcement and that people are somewhat comfortable with life. It brought me to a place where I reminisced on my time in Germany, the good people I met and the freedom and comfort I had, barring the fact that it was a bit uncomfortable being one of the few black persons around. So a lot has changed in Germany. The world in general, now that is a different story. There is still the ideology of purism, the fact that on many different bases, people still see themselves as pure and above others. This ideology is just fascists and though Fascism was born in Europe, it is a worldwide disease now, just ask people living in Cuba and of Cuban heritage.
In this world, it seems as though comfort should only be afforded to a few and anyone outside of that circle who has the desire to own it has to pay, literally and figuratively, to get it. Take the academic world for example, there are many people who walk with their heads held high and look down on others without their qualification as inferior. These individuals are many and their alternates are very few. Even among academics there is the idea of one being better than the other, just goes to show again that hypocrisy and purism is present. Ok, so that isn’t enough proof, ok, then take another example, when I visit the university gym at 5:30 AM the first thing that greets me is silence. How and why should a place that is known to rid people of stress and anxiety exist in silence? A simple answer, an academic who sees himself as a purist. Once he is there, no music (low volume or otherwise) or noise should be played or made, this is a gym, not a geriatric home. The trainers comply with his bullying because they are afraid that one of the many letters of complaints he pens to human resource and the front office may lead to their dismal. So until he leaves, the gym is under his rule. Why should people (who pay to use the facility) have to suffer? Well I don’t know him, I have never spoken to him and I don’t care to, so I am not going to be walking on eggshells for someone who has his head so far up his…, in the cloud. If you are so above us, why do our activities here down below on earth cause such discomfort to you? Anything and anyone who breeds hatred and discomfort I try my very best to avoid. Do you know how hard it is to wake and stay awake at 5 in the morning? There is no way I am going to gym under discomfort so I bought myself a good pair of headphones and I am good, but that’s me, what about the others? There are few who can survive in a space with these –isms, –skisms and –ists but what about the majority who can’t, can you imagine the mental, physical and psychological abuse and trauma they have to live with? We just have to try not to be influenced by the negativity, never mind you will be seen as the villain, but once you can live with yourself and the people in your circle, who you love and care about, can live with and love you then you should have zero cares about the others.
Power and the love of power is a disease that is eating away the core of society because people lose themselves in order to attain the things they think will give them power and in the process they step on the people they consider insignificant and inferior. The evidence to all this is standing everywhere we turn and that is the reason I started by saying I love my bush because I was shielded from the knowledge or the different kinds of discriminations of the world. Now that the ignorance of their existence has disappeared, I have to guard myself against these ‘purists’ because they will try to sway my medz. I also have to guard myself against those existing under the guise of the oppressed because they are resilient, always trying to plant that seed of hatred. I have too short a life here on earth to spend time hating people and paying attention to discriminators. The thing that I love is that, though my inner circle is small, it still has everybody being represented within, one way or another and I will never ever change that. I will forever say this, I have the greatest parents in the world, they allowed me to be me and create my own value system in which my mores and norms were shaped by my experiences, not their words and beliefs.
In the paraphrased words of the Agent (Sasco), You have a mind of your own, think for yourself. Many will say you are conceited and into yourself but remember, they will say all that and more about you when they tell you to jump but you do not ask how high!
If it doesn’t make sense to you, it probably doesn’t.